Our eagerness to support development is neither unlimited nor uncritical, however. In the case of this project, WalkUP is withholding support for the zoning relief requested by the developer based on a design that is sorely lacking. We are likely to get only one crack at each of these new buildings in our lifetimes, so it behooves us to get it right. We are hopeful that the developer will take our constructive criticism to heart and improve the proposed designed before its zoning appeal hearing, which is likely to be scheduled in October. We’ll post updates here as we get them, either on the design or the hearing date. In the meantime, our full comments are below and also available as the PDF letter as submitted to the Board of Appeal.
Last week, we sent a letter to the Boston Board of Appeal in support of a proposed expansion of a self-service storage facility at 44 Lochdale Road (just off Washington Street near Forest Hills). The full letter is reproduced below. Although we typically focus on housing and retail that will improve street-level vitality and walkability, off-site storage also has its place in vibrant urban neighborhoods, particularly as density increases and some folks chose to live in smaller units and thus need some overflow space. We also see the proposal as a substantial improvement over current conditions; for these reasons, we sent the letter below.
Having received our letter and encountering no opposition (at least at the hearing), the Board of Appeal approved the requested zoning variations on July 25, 2017.
We know WalkUP Roslindale’s walk audit in December 2015 wasn’t the first time members of our neighborhood identified the crosswalk at the intersection of Washington and Basile streets as being in need of safety improvements. Indeed, we recognized at at the time that we were joining a long line of activists who had already called for changes at this important crossing at the northern entrance to Roslindale Square that is the main access point from the west for students going to and from the Sumner School. It was accordingly great to see city contractors out at this intersection in the last few weeks and days reinforcing the recently signed no-parking/standing areas adjacent to the crosswalk, installing curb-ramps, fixing the flashing yellow light, and installing the pedestrian crossing bollard and flexposts in almost all the required areas (the area right on the southbound side is, we believe, awaiting the completion of utility work before flexposts will go in).
We all recognize that there is more work to be done throughout the square and the entire neighborhood to improve walking and cycling and overall safety for all users of our streets. But we will pause for this moment to thank everyone who had a hand this, starting with walkBoston, who took us through the walk audit, and including the Mayor’s Office for Neighborhood Services, Councilors McCarthy and Wu, the Boston Transportation and Public Works Departments, and Roslindale Village Main Street.
Washington Street is arguably the single most critical–and failing–piece of transportation infrastructure in our neighborhood. As restaurants, retail, and housing around Forest Hills explodes (e.g.), and Roslindale Square itself becomes more populated as well as an increasingly popular destination to visit, it will become ever more urgent to make this one-mile connection sustainable. This includes improving the streetscape, sidewalks, and crosswalks for pedestrians; the road for cyclists; offering a more reasonably priced commuter-rail connection; and radically improving bus service. Our Roslindale Gateway Path initiative is another important solution to this puzzle. There is no reason it should take more than ten minutes for anyone to get from the end of the Orange Line to Roslindale Village at any time of day, including time spent waiting for a bus.
If our leaders don’t take real steps soon, we will see gridlock for more and more hours of the day, and extending further and further back toward Roslindale and then on to Dedham. There is simply no space to put more cars in this dense area, whether they are in motion or parked. We need creative solutions, and we need them quickly.
Our friends from Roslindale Village Main Street will be there to support the effort. There will also be a drum circle from 1pm-2:30pm. For those under age 15, we will have street chalk for your own creative art work.
Picked up this graphic at a Jeff Speck session at CNU25. Abundantly true of a city like Boston, where it makes no sense that our mayor still isn’t fully behind appropriate funding for active mobility and Vision Zero, or applying, right now, political will to breaking down the institutional barriers that are holding us back.